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Noe Jitrik, noted Argentine writer, historian and literary critic, dies at 94

Argentine writer and academic Noé Jitrik, long known as one of the foremost literary critics in Latin America, has died in Colombia following a stroke. He was 94.

His work was marked by reflections on marginality and dogma, exile and return, lack and excess, autobiography, Argentine nationalism, the state of literary criticism, the avant-garde - as well as his peers in the 'Latin American boom' in literature of the 1960s and '70s.

Born in a small town deep in the Argentine Pampas, in 1928, Jitrik graduated from the University of Buenos Aires but then taught at the more conservative University of Córdoba - where he met his future wife, Tununa Mercado.

Writing for the celebrated Buenos Aires literary journal Contorno through its 1953-59 run, as well as numerous volumes of poetry, he soon became noted among Spanish-language readers not only for his groundbreaking scholarship but also for his wit.

After writing the screenplay for a 1966 thriller Todo sol es amargo (The Sun is Always Bitter), he emigrated to France following a right-wing Argentine coup that year.

He returned to Buenos Aires in 1969, and a series of essays published between then and the late 1990s earned him renown for their scope, his insights into how history and literature interrelate, and his granular knowledge of Latin American literature and its relationship to European writing.

Over the course of his long career, Jitrik's work embraced French structuralist thought, psychoanalysis, semiotics and Marxism.

Jitrik's left-wing sympathies made him a target for the violent Argentine Anti-Communist Alliance however, and in 1974 he emigrated with his family to Mexico.

There, he earned the Xavier Villaurrutia Prize for his 1981 novel Fin de ritual (The End of the Ritual).

He returned to Argentina in 1987, worked as a sociological researcher for the National Sciences Council (CONICET), and from 1991 headed his alma mater's Institute of Hispano-American Literature.

He also wrote a regular literary column for the progressive Buenos Aires daily Página/12 and served as chief editor of Critical History of Argentine Literature, a 12-volume series published between 1999 and 2015.

Jitrik was honored by among others France's Order of Arts and Letters, in 1993, and the Mexican Academy of Language in 2021.

At: https://www-argentina-gob-ar.translate.goog/noticias/adios-al-escritor-y-critico-noe-jitrik?_x_tr_sl=es&_x_tr_tl=en&_x_tr_hl=en&_x_tr_pto=wapp

Argentine writer, critic, and literary historian Noé Jitrik, 1928-2022.

"Literature," Jitrik noted, "becomes social reality as it circulates - and thus has political consequences."

"So much so, that dictatorships seek to control reading - because reading is the point when literature, whether political or not, becomes politics."

Amazon loses London-sized area of rainforest in a month with Bolsonaro's reign under threat

Amazon deforestation has soared ahead of Brazil’s environmentally vital presidential election, with an area almost the size of Greater London lost last month alone.

Government satellites show a 1,455 km² (562 mi²) area of rainforest was destroyed in September, as environmental criminals raced to wreck the region before a possible change of president could bring Jair Bolsonaro’s era of destruction to an end.

A recently deforested stretch of forest near the Amazon town of Itaituba seen during a monitoring flight on 26 August

The Climate Observatory watchdog said that figure was up 47.7% compared with last September and on a par with the destruction wrought in September 2019, the first year of Bolsonaro’s far-right administration. August saw a 81% rise in deforestation.

The number of Amazon fires rose 147% compared with September 2021, with more than 41,000 blazes detected by satellites.

“This is a very dangerous moment,” warned Marcio Astrini, the Climate Observatory’s chief executive. “The Bolsonaro government is a forest-destroying machine.”

At: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/oct/07/brazil-rainforest-loss-climate-bolsonaro

A recently deforested area contrasts with a lush Amazon landscape in Nova Xavantina, Mato Grosso State, Brazil.

The rate of Amazon deforestation jumped sharply after a right-wing legislative coup ousted former President Dilma Rousseff - from 2,400 mi² in 2015 (Rousseff's last full year in office) to over 5,000 mi² last year.

It rose by a further two-thirds so far this year, as loggers rush to harvest lumber before Bolsonaro's likely loss in runoff elections this October 30th.

'Argentina, 1985' shows a young legal team's fight against the odds

Prime Video has released the trailer for Santiago Mitre’s Argentina, 1985 - which showcases an intense courtroom drama surrounding the most important trial in the history of 20th century Argentina.

Directed by Mitre, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Mariano Llinás, the movie chronicles the story of the historical Trial of the Juntas, a five-month event which took place in 1985, two years after the country’s bloody military dictatorship was replaced by democracy.

The trial set a precedent not only for the Latin American country but also for the whole globe. Never before had the world seen the heads behind a dictatorship — nine high-ranked military officials, in this case — brought to trial, in a civilian court, for crimes against humanity.

The film follows the true story of prosecutors Julio César Strassera (1933-2015) and Luis Moreno Ocampo, now 70, as they assemble a legal team to fight a terrifying battle against all odds.

At: https://collider.com/argentina-1985-trailer-ricardo-darin/

Argentine prosecutor Julio César Strassera (Ricardo Darín) and his assistant, future International Criminal Court Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo (Peter Lanzani), confront former dictatorship officials in Santiago Mitre's acclaimed Argentina, 1985.

Texas couple finds fully automatic military-grade M16s in storage cases purchased online

A couple in Houston recently discovered a number of fully automatic M16s inside gun storage cases they bought from an online government surplus store.

The couple has a business where they buy surplus items and resell them on eBay, which is why they purchased the 108 storage cases.

According to ABC13, a friend helped to stack and store the cases over the weekend so the couple gave that person one of the cases as a thank you.

When the person opened the case, he discovered 12 fully-automatic M16s inside. The weapons are designed specifically for military use only.

All the weapons had tags that designated the military branch and names of service members who had previously handled the weapons, ABC13 reported.

Retired Houston police captain and former Marine Greg Fremin said the military carefully tracks all of its weapons because any misplaced weapons can be extremely dangerous.

At: https://www.ksat.com/news/2022/09/27/texas-couple-finds-fully-automatic-military-grade-m16s-in-storage-cases-purchased-online/

Inter-American Development Bank President Claver-Carone ousted after ethics probe

Mauricio Claver-Carone has been terminated as president of the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), its board of governors announced Monday.

His departure will set off a formal process to find a replacement for the bank to help counter China's influence in Latin America.

The termination comes after a report revealed that he allegedly threatened to "burn" or "bring" the bank down over an investigation into claims that he had an affair with a staffer, which he denies.

Claver-Carone, 47, who was nominated by former President Trump, was the first American to hold the position. His exit will set off a scramble among member countries on who should head the bank.

He told Reuters on Monday that he plans to pursue legal action.

It also demonstrates that the Biden administration - whose representative voted to expel the Cuban-American hard-liner - is willing to cut loose Trump appointees, which could spell trouble for David Malpass at the World Bank.

At: https://www.axios.com/2022/09/27/inter-american-development-bank-president

Outgoing IDB President Mauricio Claver-Carone in happier days, after former President Trump nominated him to the powerful post in 2020 - which since the IDB's establishment in 1959 had been held by a Latin American official instead.

Claver-Carone was forced out following revelations he had installed his underqualified lover into a high-level, $400,000-a-year post with an office adjacent to his.

The hard-line Cuban-American had previously been installed by Trump into the IMF board of directors - during which he earned notoriety for forcing through a record, $57 billion bailout for former Argentine President Mauricio Macri, a longtime Trump friend who faced an ill-fated re-election fight in 2019.

Claver-Carone had recently blocked $1.2 billion in loans to cash-strapped Argentina already approved by the bank's board of directors - though a meeting with Economy Minister Sergio Massa resolved the delay.

Renowned jazz pianist Ramsey Lewis dies aged 87

Source: The Guardian

Ramsey Lewis, the renowned jazz pianist whose music entertained fans over a more than 60-year career that began with the Ramsey Lewis Trio and made him one of the country’s most successful jazz musicians, has died. He was 87.

Lewis is revered in jazz circles for 1960s hits like The In Crowd, Hang on Sloopy and Wade in the Water.

He earned three Grammy awards and seven gold records. The trio’s first record in 1956 was Ramsey Lewis and the Gentlemen of Swing.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/sep/12/jazz-artist-ramsey-lewis-death

Grammy Award-winning Jazz pianist and composer Ramsey Lewis, 1935-2022.

Exchange rate incentive prompts record soy exports in Argentina

Argentine Agriculture Minister Juan José Bahillo announced that the Export Increase Program, which established a differential exchange rate of 200 pesos per dollar for soy exporters during September, was “a success.”

Some 4.6 million tons of soybeans and soy products - mainly flour, oil, and animal feed - were exported within a week after the program's announcement by Economy Minister Sergio Massa, earning the hard currency-strapped country over $2 billion in foreign exchange.

The measure, Bahillo explained, “allowed producers to receive an average price almost 40% higher than the one they received on August 31st - which is practically equivalent to a reduction in export taxes to zero.”

Anticipating - some say, pushing - a devaluation, Argentine farmers and exporters had stockpiled an estimated 28 million tons of grains (mainly soy) - equivalent to $14 billion in export revenue.

“(The incentive) motivated sales to speed up,” Bahillo noted.

Soy exports - which accounted for 30.6% of the country's $78 billion in merchandise exports last year - pay the highest export tax rates: 33%.

Export taxes brought in over $10 billion in revenue last year - equal to 11% of federal revenues, and 13% of goods exports.

At: https://www-eldestapeweb-com.translate.goog/economia/juan-jose-bahillo/bahillo-destaco-que-el-dolar-soja-permitio-el-ingreso-de-mas-de-us-2-000-millones-en-una-semana-202291114500?_x_tr_sl=es&_x_tr_tl=en&_x_tr_hl=en&_x_tr_pto=wapp

Argentine Economy Minister Sergio Massa makes a point during a meeting with farming representatives shortly after his appointment last month.

The Export Increase Program he announced last week - which, through September, offers soy exporters a preferential exchange rate of 200 pesos (compared to an official buyer's rate of 142) - has succeeded in unlocking some of the $14 billion in estimated grain stockpiles for export.

While Massa had envisaged some $5 billion in soy exports this month under this program - over $2 billion were exported last week alone.

They'll never walk alone

Plebiscite in Chile: New Constitution rejected by wide margin

A plebiscite held today in Chile as to the adoption of a new constitution was rejected by a wide margin, preliminary results show.

With 88% of the vote tallied, 'Reject' votes outnumbered those to 'Approve' by 62% to 38%.

Turnout among Chile's 15.2 million registered voters was estimated at an extraordinarily high 85% - or 13 million, compared to around 7 million for most presidential elections since the country regained its democracy in 1989.

The proposed charter is intended to replace a constitution imposed by the military dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet in 1981.

The plebiscite climaxes a process that began when the otherwise stable country exploded in student-led street protests in 2019. The unrest was sparked by a hike in public transportation prices - but it quickly expanded into broader demands for greater equality and more social protections.

The following year, just under 80% of Chileans voted in favor of changing the country's constitution.

A bridge too far?

After months of work, delegates came up with a document with 388 articles that, among other things, focuses on social issues and gender parity, enshrines rights for the country's Indigenous population, and puts the environment and climate change center stage.

It also introduces rights to free education, health care, and housing.

Its designating Chile as a "plurinational state" - not unlike neighboring Bolivia - proved controversial with even many supporters however, and by 2022 approval for the new charter had dissipated.

President Gabriel Boric, 36, has been one of the main proponents of the new constitution, and has pledged to submit a new constitutional proposal for public approval.

Analysts say voters also likely view the vote as a referendum on Chile's youngest-ever president, whose popularity has plunged since taking office in March.

At: https://www-eldestapeweb-com.translate.goog/internacionales/chile/plebiscito-en-chile-ya-votaron-boric-pinera-y-bachelet-por-la-nueva-constitucion-20229413290?_x_tr_sl=es&_x_tr_tl=en&_x_tr_hl=en&_x_tr_pto=wapp

Chilean President Gabriel Boric waves holds up his ballot in today's historic vote to replace the country's 1981 constitution - a holdover from the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship.

Following a massive media campaign against it however, the progressive new charter was rejected by around 24%.

President Boric has pledged to submit a new constitutional proposal for public approval.

Man detained after pointing handgun at Argentine Vice-President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner

A man has been detained by police after he aimed a handgun at Cristina Fernández de Kirchner at point-blank range as the Argentine vice-president returned to her apartment in Recoleta, Buenos Aires.

Fernández de Kirchner, 69, was not injured in the suspected assassination attempt Thursday night, said government officials. The perpetrator was quickly detained by the federal police and the former president's bodyguards.

A 35-year-old Brazilian national, Fernando Sabag Montiel, pointed the gun at the vice-president's head at 9 p.m. as she got out of a car that was driving her from Congress to her residence.

The suspected attacker reportedly approached Mrs. Kirchner from a waiting crowd of supporters that have been holding a vigil outside her apartment block, before asking for an autograph for a copy of her best-selling 2019 autobiography, Sinceramente.

As the vice-president greeted supporters, he pulled the weapon - though the gun did not fire. A melée ensued and the vice-president was removed from the area, although she continued to speak with others who were present.

At: https://www.batimes.com.ar/news/argentina/man-arrested-for-attempting-to-assassinate-vice-president-cristina-fernandez-de-kirchner.phtml

News camera footage showing Argentine Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner greeting supporters outside her Buenos Aires apartment at 9:00 p.m. tonight, during which an assailant can be seen pointing and firing a .38 caliber handgun at her.

The weapon did not discharge.

Mrs. Kirchner, who was unharmed, is facing charges of self-dealing related to highway contracts signed during her 2007-15 administration - a trial which has further divided the country's already polarized politics.

While the assailant's motives have yet to be determined, he reportedly had a black sun tattoo - commonly associated with neo-Nazis. A right-wing sympathizer had been arrested on August 5th after screaming death threats at her though a megaphone at the same site.

President Alberto Fernández called it "the gravest incident since we regained our democracy (in 1983)," and declared a federal holiday for Friday.
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